RIYADH: As a travel destination, Japan is diverse and world-class, with 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a rich, modern pop culture.
The archipelago is more than 3,000 km long, with each prefecture and region home to its own unique offerings, including local culinary delicacies, crafts and festivals, to name a few.
In 2013, the number of international visitors to Japan reached 10.3 million. In five years, this number tripled, meaning that in 2018 Japan welcomed over 31 million international visitors, translating to an 8.7 percent increase year-on-year.
Last year, Japan was ranked fourth in the world by the World Economic Forum for its travel and tourism competitiveness.
Japanese cuisine, shopping, hot springs and theme parks are among the principal attractions for leisure visitors.
Accommodation options across the country’s eight regions and 47 prefectures are broad, ranging from major five-star brands to ryokans (traditional Japanese-style inns).
The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is involved in a wide range of activities, both domestic and international, which encourage tourists from all over the world to visit the country.
Last year, the JNTO identified the Middle East as an important emerging market for travelers seeking unique luxury experiences.
From the Middle East, the JNTO’s focus will be reaching out to and encouraging leisure travelers — including families, young adults, and those seeking wellness, luxury and authentic cultural experiences such as gourmet dining — to visit Japan.
The JNTO participated in Dubai’s Arabian Travel Market in April 2019, conducting numerous tourism seminars for the region’s travel trade professionals
Connectivity between the UAE and Japan is excellent, with Emirates Airlines flying direct daily to Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports and Osaka’s Kansai airport, and Etihad Airways offering daily direct flights to Narita Airport.
The JNTO further strengthened its presence in the region by appointing marketing and PR agency AVIAREPS as a representative to regularly collaborate with regional airline partners in conducting joint consumer promotions, advertising campaigns and ongoing marketing activities that serve to generate greater awareness of Japan’s attractions.
The JNTO encourages visitors from the Middle East seeking an authentic experience to not simply limit their visits to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, but also to use the opportunity to venture out to places such as Hokkaido, Tohoku, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa.
The JNTO is planning to renew and expand its official Arabic-language website this year to ensure that relevant, up-to-date information is made available to all.
The organization is committed to furthering its activities in the Middle East so that an increasing number of travelers can easily learn more about the touristic treasures Japan has to offer.
Daisuke Kobayashi is a senior official of the Japan National Tourism Organization in the Middle East.